Confusion was written all over his face, but she'd expected that. She often imagined what it must have been like for the first person to discover this dimensional doorway; so unlike any she'd mapped, so dangerous if entered the wrong way. She knew that somewhere there was a file with all the cartographer names they'd lost through this doorway. Gone through but never found. Some, many, probably torn apart on a molecular level. Distributed all across the galaxy. Whispers of unknowable things scratched at the back of her mind but she dismissed them. Those rabbit holes could never be uncovered.
Twisting her fingers into his, Mabel pulled him until he was right beside her, their forearms pressing close, their shoulders grounded against each other. "Do exactly as I do," she advised, and flexed her calves until she was resting all of her weight on the balls of her feet, her body teetering forward.
She felt the angle as soon as she hit it - ninety-six point zero seven degrees. A rush of air sucked itself away from her as a lightness came over her muscles that was entirely foreign, entirely unnatural. Her vision adjusted and instead of a black pit she was looking into a cavernous hallway, an explosion of clean light at the end - just a fistful in the distance. Gravity pulled at her but it was not beckoning her back into Dimension Quad Beta, it was drawing her forward. Into Dimension Nexus Blue.
Together, they stepped forward, Elco's hand clasping hers hard enough to hurt.
The most unpleasant thing about Dimension Nexus Blue was the entrance; everything else about the world as it was known was ideal. Crystal clear drinking water, fewer than average apex predators, large sections of terrain untouched by natural disasters, no over-reaching human cities to speak of, and weather unparalleled in any other dimension. The cavern made no promises of the bounty, but it was only a few hundred yards before they came through it and a shimmering forest opened ahead of them. The sun overheard was a harvest pink, which told Mabel it was just after dawn. The fauna would be migrating to the rivers for their morning drink. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation.
"We should make camp here and rest a while. It's a thirteen hour hike to the next portal."
Elco dropped his pack instantly and stretched his spine, his big palms pushing against his lower back. A satisfied groan escaped him. "Camp sounds good, I'm starving."
It took her an hour - or, as time passed in Nexus Blue, two half-cycles - to find, skin, gut, and cook their dinner. Not all dimensions were as closely related as Earth and Nexus Blue, which was partly why she loved it so; many of the forest dwellers were the same as on Earth - rabbits, deer, rodents, birds. She kept an eye out for bears and the wild foxes but nothing came her way except for a few small woodland critters and the sweet breeze from the North. A peace seemed eternally kept in this place, a safety and a surety that Mabel recognized as unique to this dimension.
Already, she felt that hesitance to leave. It was always fast to settle into her bones, and it didn't help that the next doorway was so far away. The longer she spent here the harder it was to leave. Deep in the recesses of her mind, she wondered how good of an idea it would be to camp. Perhaps they could make the trip before dark and get to the doorway before the temptation took over.
Instead of cashing in on her anxiety, they ate quietly and stretched out to watch the clouds. She'd intended to get some sleep, but her mind wouldn't turn off. She wondered how long it would take to build a shelter, to start a garden, to teach Elco how to build hunting weapons.